We coordinated our visit to Morocco with American Ben, his Moroccan girlfriend Rabia, French Olivier, and Italian Violetta who lives in Rabat.
We like Morocco. The street sharks of the touristy sites can get annoying, but get away and the hospitality is genuine, the food and crafts are wonderful, and places like the medina in Fes evoke another age, the way things used to be, which is really very cool. You should go, enshallah. Lili and I hope to return some day, enshallah. Allah willing.
In Morocco, the future is entirely up to Allah. One should say, for example, "We're going out for dinner tonight, enshallah." Similarly, one should say, "Humdulillah," meaning, "Thanks be to Allah," when speaking about the past. For example, "Dinner was excellent, humdulillah." Violetta says this can be frustrating when, for example, someone promises to deliver something at work, saying, "Enshallah," and then fails to deliver with a one-word excuse, "Humdulillah." Allah didn't want the work to get done. So much for personal responsibility! She says that she is tempted to say, "Maybe Allah doesn't want you to keep your job!"
Travelling with Rabia provided strong examples of the male-dominated Arab (not necessarily Muslim) apartheid. In Marrakech, for example, we had to walk an hour to find a room, not because the hotels were full, but because the hotel managers all accused Rabia of being a prostitute (Lili too). We had translators, and sometimes the verbal abuse was in French, so we understood the vulgar language. Lili finds that when she's in North Africa, she only feels comfortable on the street wearing a head scarf and loose-fitting clothes. It's good to push boundaries with positive examples, but not when it makes us feel unwelcome.
We found the capital, Rabat, to be modern, safe, and friendly, more influenced by Europe than the interior. Morocco in general is progressive compared to other Arab states. Every generation is better for women than the previous. Elsewhere, women are obliged to wear burqas, they are not allowed to drive cars, or they get arrested for walking hand-in-hand with a boyfriend; some are stoned to death for pre-marital sex or adultery. The USA, while universally despised for its foreign policy, is admired (by women) for being a leader in women's rights.
When I was here in 2001, I went to the Sahara desert on a camel out of M'Hamid. I met a caravan of Algerian traders. We spoke in French and drank "Arab whiskey" (mint tea). One of the guys had a "snow" board for the sand dunes. That night at camp, another guy produced a bottle of red wine. Great memory.